Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Living in the One Percent

I've had the opportunity to stand on nine or ten summits over 14,000 feet in my life. I've been blessed to travel to Russia fifteen times and another trip is on the horizon. I've hiked for days near the Matterhorn, one of the most beautiful mountains in the world. I got to take a zipline from next to the Great Wall of China across a lake flying hundreds of feet in the air.

And in each of these scenarios and others like them I wondered to myself:  What percentage of people in the world have done this or been here? And of course I don't know the amount but I'm pretty sure it's quite small, less than one percent.  I remember thinking, "I am so fortunate to be here because very few have experienced this."

But I also know this . . . those moments were some of the most alive times in my life. Most of them required sacrifice, hardship, pain and/or fear but they were worth it. They were opportunities that the majority of other people either couldn't or wouldn't take advantage of because in many cases they were too busy doing what everyone else does.

Is that you  and your family too?  Just accomplishing a lot of great things but doing what most other people do every day. Are you just a clone in a busy culture but with little uniqueness of your own?

And before you think I was just off doing special adventures let me explain what led to the above activities. The mountains were largely climbed with one or more of my kids or my wife. They were special family moments we would never forget.

The trips to Russia have been to teach, help, encourage and train others in ministry, to help them more effectively share their Christian faith with their people. The Matterhorn trip was a twenty-fifth wedding anniversary trip with Jackie and the Great Wall opportunity was part of a trip to see our daughter and son-in-law serving God in China.

REMEMBER: If you want your one percent choices to be extra special do something that involves things that truly matter - ministry, family and helping others.

It is so easy to just coast through life making money, getting stuff and trying to just be happy. But living in the one percent is more about finding joy, giving things away and discovering that the things that are worth the most actually cost the least in everyday terms. You don't need dollars, pesos, rubles or Euros to buy them.  But you do have to plan them, look for them, pray about them and be intentional about living life differently from the masses.

Look for a cause, a mission, a neighbor to help. Find an adventure that your family will never forget and yet which teaches eternal truths and makes a lifelong difference in someone. And when you do you will find that your life is alive in a way you've rarely experienced before and you will never go back.

Start now.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

To Have Great Kids Start Early

So if you could describe the third-grader or middle school student, teenage or adult you would like your child to be what words would you use? Polite, self-controlled, kind to others, honest, obedient, God-honoring?  I'm sure we could make pretty long lists and many of us would include the same words.

Why?  Because they are words that describe the character, attitudes and actions we know make up great people, those who get along well with others, succeed in life and serve God by doing things that matter.

The problem is that many parents think these qualities will just appear in their children one day. In the meantime they wait for the child to get older before they try to instill and develop those qualities in their offspring. That is a huge mistake.

If you want your children to exhibit certain behaviors and attitudes start when they are little and I mean little. Yes, children are different in both personality and development so we can't all expect the same results at the same ages. Some kids push us harder than others and have a stronger will to resist the direction we want to give them.

In fact, that is why a lot of parents just give up and don't stay with training their kids in the way they should go because frankly it's just hard. But please don't make your child being a challenge an excuse for not digging the soil deep for planting personal seeds for their future.

We were just with our daughter Amy, her husband David and their two boys for eight or nine days. However, the youngest, Silas, who is just twenty-months, would regularly say thank you when he was given something. Twenty months. But that didn't just happen. They have a boy who is learning to be polite and they are helping him to it. In fact, their oldest, now almost four, has been learning politeness for a long time now.

Are those boys perfect?  Of course not and we cannot expect that. But too many parents simply do not try to build character qualities into their children early in their development assuming they can't learn these things. They can amd they will if we'll be actively involved.

And when your children push back, especially the strong ones, then yes they will require more repetition, reminders and practice. Your timeframe for success will be longer but it will be worth it. Don't quit.

Of course other factors are important such as modeling, family atmosphere and parenting styles. We parents must practice what we preach. But when we put intentional training along with natural modeling we are far more likely to have children who actually become what we've hoped and prayed for.

So start early.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Why We All Need A Little Sabbath in Our Homes

Some people don't know what it is. When I tell people I'm going on a nine-week sabbatical they look at me like I'm speaking another language. Others think I must be doing this because I'm a pastor and that maybe I'm going to take some kind of pilgrmage to a foreign, mystical land.

For many the word sabbath only makes sense if it comes after the word Black. (Are they still touring?) But actually the purpose of sabbath or taking a sabbatical  is to rest and breathe in a major change of scenery from the hectic pace of life and its demands.

It's only when we literally stop doing what we're doing for a while and live differently for an extended time will we understand true sabbath. God, obviously knowing how we are made and what we need, ordained and commanded sabbath on a regular basis. We could say that every night's sleep is a form of sabbath and it is. But God's chief plan was to tell His children to take one day a week and experience a major stoppage or at least change of pace from the usual grind of life.  Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy is one of the Ten Commandments. It's not a suggestion.

Even the fields were supposed to have a periodic rest and sometimes individuals were given much longer breaks. That's why many wise organizations like schools and churches offer something to people like me, usually after seven years of service following the Biblical example.

The problem is that most of us in our culture are caught in the trap and pull of having to do more not less, to never rest but be productive. We want our kids busy every moment, we need more money to get more house and then have more to take care of and then we sleep less. But our bodies weren't made for living that way. And neither were our souls.

We need regular times to slow down, even stop. We must recalibrate our minds,  rest our muscles and bones and  renew our relationships with crockpot slowness, letting each hour simmer in new flavor, perspective and calm.

The other day I had to schedule a follow up doctor visit during this sabbatical and my first reaction was to check my schedule on my phone to see what times would be open. And all of a sudden I thought . . . "Wait, my time is totally free. It doesn't matter when we make the appointment!"  That was liberating and rejuvenating in and of itself.

Do you and your family embrace sabbath in your world?  It won't likely be nine-weeks long (and mine won't either again for at least seven more years) but it can be a few hours, a day, a weekend or just a short nap. But don't say I can't afford sabbath.  The truth is you can't afford NOT to have sabbath. You're going to run out of gas, you're going to miss some of the most important things in life that you won't enjoy unless you stop long enough to experience them.

Start now. Once you do you'll never go back to the old way.

Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Avoiding Friendly Fire At Your House

War has many unpleasant outcomes - debilitating injuries, time away from home and challenging stresses and emotional issues long after time of service finishes.  And of course the worst result of all is death - the loss of a mother, daughter, son, father, brother or sister. Life is never the same after that.

However, there is one kind of death that makes the situation even harder to bear. Death or injury from friendly fire. Someone gets hurt or killed accidentally by the bullets or bombs of one of their own.  As I write this our country is celebrating our independence on the 4th of July but that independence came with great cost including some who were lost but were inadvertently taken away through the error of a fellow soldier or team.

Sadly, there are friendly fire results in many homes that are also tragic and could have been avoided as well. Children, spouses and parents can all be the recipients of explosions and other ammunition that gets shot into a home or family.  Let me talk about some that could actually be stopped or deflected if we will just stop and admit it is there.

Verbal assaults.  Name-calling, shouting, rage and put downs are common in many households.  People may not even think they were making a big deal or hurting someone else through their words but it happens all the time. Children begin to think they are bad all the time, spouses are told how stupid or dumb they are and just an angry tone of voice can be devastating.

Proverbs remind us that death and life are in the power of the tongue.

Unreasonable expectations. Some parents won't accept anything from their children less than their being number one, getting an "A" or winning. The implication even in their compliments is that the results should have been better. How do I know this is a problem in many families?  Because I talk almost every week to these kids who are now grown ups in my counseling office and they are still paying the price of their parents unfair desires for them.

Selfish decisions.  Many adults in the middle of an affair, a divorce, financial struggles and a host of other things make quick, inward focused decisions without considering who else in the family might be affected. I wrote recently of this in a post about divorce but it happens in myriad situations. Often couples are so mad at each other that they will yell, scream, deceive, conjur and manipulate to get their own way not realizing that several other sets of eyes are watching and hearts are breaking.

My hunch is that you can think of some more settings where friendly fire can take its toll.  Look at yourself and your situation and ask God to show you where those situations might be.  Or if the ones I've discussed here are true of you, decide today to make a change now.

The battle is tough enough without hurting those you love in the process.

Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.